New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today that all military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines will be banned.
“On March 15 our history changed forever. Now our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place,” Ardern said at a press conference today according to CNN.
In a united effort and with a sense of urgency, the country’s cabinet agreed just 72 hours after the March 15 mass shooting, to overhaul the current gun law and institute a ban specifically on the weapons used in the attack.
“Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terror attack on Friday will be banned,” Arden said, adding that she hoped the new law will be in place by April 11.
Brenton Tarrant is accused of the mass shooting that claimed 50 lives. It is alleged he used five guns, two semi-automatic weapons, a lever action firearm, and two shotguns. Tarrant is a licensed gun owner in New Zealand, acquiring his license in November of 2017 according to CNN.
The Prime Minister compared the legislation’s sense of urgency to Australia’s response to the Port Arthur mass shooting that left 35 people dead and 23 wounded. Convicted murderer Martin Gray used an AR-15 in the attack.
Twelve days after the shooting Prime Minister John Howard announced sweeping gun reforms in a country where firearms are considered an essential part of Australian culture.
“At that stage the gun lobby was the ruling lobby in Australia,” said Philip Alpers, associate professor at the University of Sydney in a 2016 article in the Guardian. “What happened at Port Arthur is that they were outpaced, outflanked and outwitted by a man who had the power to move in 12 remarkable days.”
An estimated 1.2 million guns are in circulation in New Zealand, one for every three people.
Arden is proposing a buyback scheme that would offer fair and reasonable compensation for those who already own weapons, according to the Guardian. Estimates on the cost of buying back the weapons at between $100 million and $200 million.
Professor Kevin Clements, chairman of Peace and Conflicts studies at the University of Otago and a firearms expert, said the ban is widely supported, and one of New Zealand’s largest gun retailers, Hunting & Fishing New Zealand, said it supports “any government measure to permanently ban such weapons,” according to Fox News.
New Zealand farmer John Hart had this response to the proposed new legislation on Twitter.
Until today I was one of the New Zealanders who owned a semi-automatic rifle. On the farm they are a useful tool in some circumstances, but my convenience doesn’t outweigh the risk of misuse.— John Hart (@farmgeek) March 18, 2019
We don’t need these in our country.
We have make sure it’s #NeverAgain pic.twitter.com/crLCQrOuLc